Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Are flexible and curved screens technology’s next important race?

Technology is constantly on the search for the next consumer interest trend and I believe curved, and flexible screens are just what they've been looking for. LG seem to be currently leading the way, as they just announced the 56” curved OLED TV screen. Samsung are hot on their heels though.

Since November last year, Samsung have promised to deliver flexible screen smartphones during 2013, and at CES in January Samsung unveiled a prototype flexible smartphone, interestingly running Windows Phone 8. 

With Corning the makers of Gorilla Glass, confirming that they are in the process of creating a flexible version of the screen, the ball is certainly rolling. Several reports have suggested that any consumer form will be delayed to the tail-end of the year (just before Christmas no doubt) because of issues with ‘Encapsulation technology’ that stops displays getting damaged by water or air pockets. Rumours of Samsung Galaxy Note becoming the first flexible screen phone seem wide of the mark but there should be a couple of offerings from both LG and Samsung by Q1 of 2014. Perhaps the most interesting of these rumours regards the next Nexus 5 from LG which is reported to be aiming for a 5.2" flexible screen. There have been no noises from other manufacturers like Apple, HTC, or Motorola on this so far but they are sure to be closely monitoring developments.

We are still a little way from the likes of digital paper but it certainly won’t be long. What a flexible screen does allow for is to put a computing device on any object – not just our bodies. When we’ve already focused upon designing technology around our ergonomic requirements, screens are the one piece of the puzzle that remains restricting. The opportunities the flexible screens open up to developers is staggering and that’s what makes it so exciting. Who knows - we could see life like this in 2020 (well it's the dream, right?):

     Whatever we end up seeing from the initial consumer flexible screens, it’s likely to begin in a similar fashion to the first camera phone. The technology is unlikely to be ready for mass consumer consumption, and there certainly isn’t the burning desire to have it. This is technology for the sake of it, but then again – as always, I can’t wait.

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